At Evil Hat, with our kickstarter campaigns, we believe in sharing the cost. We’re not coming to our backers asking them to carry 100% of the costs on a project, pure and simple.
With that in mind, the Dinocalypse kickstarter was conceived as someting that’d be in the red at pretty much every stretch goal, with each book needing to generate a few thousand bucks in sales outside of the kickstarter as each got funded. And that’s fine; we want our kickstarted products to take on a life beyond the kickstarter, or it’s not much of a starter after all.
And if we fail to make that additional green to get us into the black — well, that’s on us, and it should be on us. Because we’re a commercial company, dagnabbit.
So that same thing’s been true as we come to our Race to Adventure! kickstarter. We said as much on the project page that even if we hit $40,000, we’re still in the red. How much in the red? Well, about $20,000. Mind you, that’s $20,000 we have and are willing to spend in addition to the funds raised, so no harm no foul there. But I’ve gotten some questions about this on Twitter made with concerned faces and intentions to see Evil Hat prosper, so I figure I owe you some more detail.
Now, first off, let’s check an assumption at the door. If, at $40k, we’re $20k in the red, that means that if we raised $60k, the project would be fully in the black, right?
The reality is that as each new pledge comes in, new costs come along for the ride, too — shipping, for example, as well as the costs of producing the game. Same can be said of each stretch goal, since that triggers the need to produce additional materials. So while at $60k we’d be less in the red, we’d still be in the red. With each pledge that comes in, some goes towards “the red”, and some simply goes towards the cost.
Very generalized, based on our past experiences, we’ve structured things such that about 25% of any pledge is going towards shipping costs & other incidentals. We also know that as much as 10% goes to amazon and kickstarter combined. Together, that’s a third. So we could say that for every 3 bucks pledged, we’ll net about 2 bucks to apply to the actual costs of the product and the spiffs.
I’m gonna use multiples of $3,000 here because that makes the 2/3rds math easy. In essence: $36,000 = $24,000 actual; $51,000 = $34,000 actual; $72,000 = $48,000 actual; $99,000 = $66,000 actual. Dig?
The trick to making this all work out is to make sure that with each stretch goal, it’s only adding a little more cost for us; that way, as the funding busts through stretch goals (fingers crossed!) it’s moving faster than the growth of “the red”, allowing us to reduce it.
To use those numbers again: at $24,000 actual, we’re about $20,000 in the red (and again — that’s as planned, designed, etc; all good!); at $34,000 actual, we’d be about $12,000 in the red; at $48,000 actual, we’d be about $4,000 in the red; and at $66,000 actual, we’d be only about $1,000 in the red.
So when someone asks me “You say you’re still in the red at $40,000; at what point are you not in the red?” and I say “$100,000!” — it’d be easy to walk away and think “holy crap, if this project only makes $40,000, Evil Hat will be $60,000 in debt for this project!” But that’s really far from the truth ($40,000 far, in fact).
The math is a moving target. We took the time to chart it. We know its trajectory. And it’ll be a smooth ride all the way.
As a footnote, here: if the project doesn’t fund? We still produce the game — but without spending money on all those extras, without the burden to ship out a bunch of copies, etc. So our “failed to fund” scenario potentially has us less in the red than our “just barely funded” scenario, assuming the game sells (we’d also do a smaller print run in such a case, another way to keep costs down). This failure scenario is also by design.
In all, this is the kind of number crunching, dig-in-the-details financial work that’s best done well in advance when planning a kickstarter. I worked up these figures back in April, two full months before we launched, as one of our first steps in designing the Race to Adventure kickstarter.
When it comes down to it, I’ll say it again: Kickstarter is a business. We’re treating it like one. And most businesses have a period of taking a loss, of living in the red, before they can succeed.
It’s all good, and with even modest success, we’ll be doing just fine. Sure, we’ll definitely need your help — whether as a backer or eventual purchaser — to see that success with Race to Adventure and honestly any other product we make.
But Evil Hat is not in any kind of trouble here, in any of the possible outcomes. By design.
While we are taking on more risk in 2012 than we have in prior years, as with everything Evil Hat’s done, we’re making sure all those risks are calculated ones.
We’re just as interested in making sure Evil Hat sticks around as you are.
I’m gonna let the videos speak for themselves on this one. You can find the Kickstarter page behind this click!
Chuck Wendig’s Dinocalypse Now is now up for general preorder!
You can order the ebook bundle now, too, if you want to stay all digital (or are, y’know, international and not wanting to pay shipping costs in excess of its cover price).
We’ll be shipping this one mid-June or so if it all works out (we have to print the books & deliver them to the Kickstarter backers who made this all possible first).
I’ll edit this post with links to other sales locales as they become available, so stay tuned if you prefer using DriveThruFiction, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble!
In this sixth and final installment of our Dinocalypse Now preview, we learn a little bit more about what has transpired. Want to learn even more? Back the Dinocalypse Trilogy kickstarter before it concludes — soon! — and you will!
Outside New York City
The dinosaur roared, and the Conqueror Ape roared with it.
The dinosaur in question: a Giganotosaurus, its head lifted high, its wretched scream ululating from its rippling throat.
The Conqueror Ape in question: Gorilla Khan, warlord ape and all-around megalomaniac.
Gorilla Khan wore his best outfit today. This day of true conquest, this day the world was made finally to kneel and see its weakness splayed out before all eyes. Armor made of bones and teeth and painted red-and-gold—red for blood, gold for the color of kings—adorned his broad primate’s chest. And upon his head, a helmet made from the skull of a long-dead saber-toothed cat, the colorful plumage of the similarly long-dead archaeopteryx thrust up from a ring mounted in the top of the hand-made helmet.
Both creatures, the cat and the bird, were ones Gorilla Khan hunted and killed himself.
One should wear his conquests, he said. You do not conceal your gifts.
That was why he sat astride this massive reptilian carnivore. Bit in the beast’s mouth, braided leather reins gathered up in one of Khan’s crushing fists.
Let the world see him upon this most glorious of creatures. A creature that died out millions of years ago. Before mankind and the trappings of so-called “civilization.” Before time itself. Before the meteors came and changed everything.
Ahead of them: the Brooklyn Bridge. Beyond it, the rising spires of Manhattan.
In the sky above, the setting sun highlit the circling pterodactyls and the first wave of airships: just a fraction of Gorilla Khan’s invasion fleet.
“Status report,” he barked.
One of his lackeys, a simpering white-furred lowland gorilla, bounded up to the beast and clambered up the side. He hung to Khan’s left, offering a placating smile of primate fangs.
“Most excellent, Mighty Khan, most excellent.”
“I abhor your generalities. I demand specifics, Attaché Gonga. Not your mewling glad-handed bulletins.” To confirm his disgust, Gorilla Khan threatened Gonga with the back of his hand—a hand that did not fall but stayed poised to strike.
“Yes! Yes. Of course.” Gonga had this nervous laugh, a kind of wheezing, growling heh, heh, heh. It held little mirth, and whenever he made the sound, a sudden stink of fear rose. A smell that intoxicated the Conqueror Ape. “The invasion is going… ahh, swimmingly. The humans have begun to dispatch, ahhh, soldiers and police, but they are no match for our own warriors and agents, nor can they, ahhh, hold their own against our technology.”
Technology. Yes. Khan longed to test their weapons on unwilling subjects. Hanging to the side of his Giganotosaurus was what looked to be a long wooden spear with a tip made from a gleaming multi-faceted ruby, a ruby as big as a human child’s fist. But of course it was so much more than just a spear…
Well. Playtime would come.
Gonga continued: “The Centurions have been subdued. All the chapter houses have been taken; many burned to the ground. Those eager do-gooding spirits of the Century Club have been… ahh, sidelined and taken away by our, ahhh, new allies. The minds of the heroes are no longer with their, ahh, umm, bodies.”
Their new allies, indeed. The saurian agents. Willing and able to serve with no interest in leading. A powerful force.
“Anything else?” Khan asked his inferior.
“There is, ahhh, one more thing,” Gonga said, his voice lowering and once more offering that nervous huffing laugh. “We have hit a… a snag.”
Khan roared. Bared fangs first to Gonga, then to the sky.
“Explain, Attaché Gonga.”
“Some of the Centurions, a rare few—”
“Some of them what.”
“A rare few remain, ahhh, unaccounted for, though we are sure that—”
Gorilla Khan backhanded the albino ape hard enough to knock the attaché off the side of his mount. The fool hit the ground and scrambled to once more gain his footing.
“Who?” Khan asked.
“I said, who! Who has escaped our grasp?”
“Ahhh.” Gonga stood, dusting himself off. “Amelia Stone. Mack Silver. Benjamin Hu. Jet Black. Sally Slick. Ahhh. Reports are coming in of others. Just a few! Just a few.”
Khan let go of the reins, and leapt off his mount.
He landed atop Gonga, once more knocking the pink-eyed simian to the ground. He grabbed tufts of white fur and pulled the weakling’s face close to his own.
“What of my son?” Khan said, voice low.
“Ah. Ahhh. Yes. We have agents inbound as we speak.”
“He’s still there? Still at Oxford?”
Gonga nodded, obsequious smile firmly in place.
“Good.” Gorilla Khan snorted. “I hate this place, Gonga. I hate the people. Their pink-cheeked optimism, their ugly utilitarian architecture, their disgust and misunderstanding of the natural world. But most of all I hate what they did to my boy. They… civilized him. Made him weak. I will change that. I will change him back. Awaken in him what has been awakened in me. For he is Son-of-Khan, and I am Khan.”
The Conqueror Ape let his attaché fall back to the ground.
“Now, Gonga. We march.” Gorilla Khan clambered back up into the custom-made saddle riding the ridges of the monster’s back. He grabbed the reins and pulled them tight.
The beast reared back.
Once more the Giganotosaurus and the Conqueror Ape roared in unison.